Tampa Keeps Getting Better – and More Affordable, Too

February 18, 2015

Tampa Hillsborough EDC research team members Randy Smith and Sarah Thomas provide monthly, quarterly and annual reports on economic indicators, demographics, real estate, and other custom data that help us track the progress of our local business climate. These reports are highly valuable to our partners, site selectors, and corporate executives who are looking at Tampa and Hillsborough County for prospective relocation or expansion.

The latest Cost of Living Index (COLI) offered some particularly good news for our region. The COLI is a standardized price index that compares 281 metro areas, as of 2014, in six different areas. These areas include grocery items, housing, utilities, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services, such as haircuts, clothing items, and more. Each category has its own weight, adding to the overall score, which is then compared to the U.S. average of 100. Cities with scores above 100 are more expensive, while those less than are considered to be more affordable.

Let’s cut to the chase: At the end of 2014, Tampa and Hillsborough County had the lowest cost of living index of the 11 areas in the state of Florida that opted to participate: 92.4. The other regions participating included Ft. Lauderdale, Miami-Dade County, and Orlando. This COLI score means that prices for goods and services in Tampa and Hillsborough County are 7.6 percent below the national average.

The cost of living in Tampa and Hillsborough County has been below the national average since 2000. Even at our highest point in 2000, we stood just below the national average at 99.5.

Our community’s great score is driven mainly by our low housing index numbers. Our housing cost index at the end of 2014 was 76.3, which means that our housing, including new home prices, mortgage rates, and apartment rates, are 23.7 percent less than the U.S. average. Our groceries and health care costs are also lower than the national average.

For example, the average home price in Tampa was $212,792, while Orlando saw an average home price of $274,673. Coffee prices here were a low $3.56, but Atlanta saw prices as high as $4.84. Men in Tampa are paying significantly lower prices for their shirts than those in Dallas, with more than an $8 price difference.

We already know that Tampa and Hillsborough County are great places to do business. Our low cost of living is one more positive asset that makes our community such a great place to live, work, and play.